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How to beat self-doubt and become more resilient at work

Maguire Training

Self-doubt can prevent leaders and managers from demonstrating their true potential by making them over-cautious and wary of making simple decisions for fear of failure.

Working life is full of little setbacks that can bruise our confidence: the lost sale, the fluffed presentation, the inadvertent mishandling of a difficult situation and so on. Unless personal resilience is developed to provide a coping and recovery strategy, self-doubt can creep in and, left unchecked, can affect well-being and personal performance in the workplace.

Self-doubt can prevent leaders and managers from demonstrating their true potential by making them over-cautious and wary of making simple decisions for fear of failure. It is perfectly normal for everyone to experience self-doubt occasionally, but regular or constant self-doubt is an issue that needs to be addressed. Here, we offer a selection of tips to help you beat self-doubt and become more resilient at work.

    • Never forget that no-one is perfect

      Humans are fallible, full stop. Furthermore everyone experiences self-doubt, everyone is nervous at some point and everyone makes mistakes. You are not unique in this respect; self-doubt is a natural phenomenon. One of the best ways to deal with it is to recognise the events and situations which prompt self-doubt, look at how other people deal with them successfully and copy them.


    • If a situation prompts self-doubt, think ‘what’s the worst that could happen’?

      Many business people are fearful of public speaking or giving presentations yet these are not ‘life or death’ situations. The worst that could happen is that you might forget or fluff your lines or accidentally say or do something that is mildly embarrassing. Analysing a situation beforehand and taking every possible step to overcome those aspects which cause self-doubt such as rehearsing your speech or presentation until you’re super-confident in delivering it will provide reassurance. Even if something does go wrong, so what? Once the moment has passed it’s history ‘gone forever’ the key thing is to focus upon dealing with the situation and moving on.


    • Go with your gut instinct before self-doubt has a chance to stop you

      If faced with a particular situation or event that is liable to cause self-doubt, rely on your knowledge and experience of similar situations and follow your instincts; nine times out of ten you will choose an appropriate course of action and the more this times this happens the more your feelings of self-doubt will diminish.


    • Just do it

      Self-doubt can often cause us to make excuses for not acting even when there is no justifiable reason not to act. In such situations ‘am I good enough to apply for that promotion’?; ‘should I ask for that pay rise’?; ‘should I publish my report’? etc. – it is better simply to grasp the nettle and just do it rather than to wallow in damaging self-doubt.


  • Learn to love yourself

    Each of us is unique, and if you stop to consider it for a moment you can almost certainly think of something that you can do better than anyone else you know. Focus on your strengths and abilities, situations in which you’ve excelled and actions for which you’ve been praised by others. Beating self-doubt is about self-awareness of your own positive traits and abilities and appreciating that there are things that you excel at, rather than needlessly dwelling on what you may or may not be able to do.

Overcoming self-doubt and becoming more resilient are essential factors for a happy, productive and successful working life.

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